Today will be the biggest day of Leia’s life, medically speaking. That is, if I have it my way, it will.
Today is the day of her spay. We generally recommend it for kittens around 5 to 6 months old.
Waiting until that age gives you a bigger body size, which usually means a more competent ability to maintain body temperature despite anesthesia. This is important as too cold a kitten can lead to serious health concerns.
Being bigger also allows you to store more energy in your body. This is important because a kitten is fasted prior to the surgery.
Keeping the stomach empty of food and water is essential, because anesthetized kittens have no gag reflex. If stomach contents were to be regurgitated, they might end up in the lungs, causing a potentially life threatening pneumonia or even asphyxiation. However, if your blood sugar drops too low when you fast, that can be threatening as well.
Another concern is physiologic maturity. This relates to a kitten’s ability to process and eliminate the anesthetic drugs from her system. Newborns just can’t do what 6-month-old kittens can in this regard.
We run preanesthetic blood work on Leia as a precaution. Most kittens her age wouldn’t have much risk for a liver or kidney issue, but she’s unique given her background and intention tremors condition. Whatever damaged her brain may have affected other organs as well. Thankfully, all her results are normal.
She is anesthetized and prepped for surgery. Sterility is essential for all surgeries, not just human procedures, and veterinarians follow the same precautions. Her procedure is an ovariohysterectomy. That’s the medical term for removing the ovaries and uterus.
The benefits are myriad. No ovaries, no ovarian cancer. No uterus, no uterine infections. No estrogen from the ovaries, no increasing risk of mammary cancer. In fact, since we spayed Leia before her first heat cycle, we’ve pushed her as close as possible to a zero risk for mammary cancer later in life.
She recovers uneventfully and goes home with pain medication. Because cats do feel pain, after all.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.